The five municipalities that make up the Valle Siciliana (further described elsewhere on this website) boast an extraordinary artistic heritage. So where to begin? Well, Castelli of course: the artistic pearl of the Gran Sasso, the majolica jewel of our mountains!

Majolica has been produced in Castelli since time immemorial, but international fame came after about 1500 when ceramics from Castelli were found on the tables and in the homes of nobles all over Europe. This was partly thanks to the Spanish domination of the area, which opened Castelli to the world through international trade.

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Today Castelli’s ceramic artefacts can be admired at the famous Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, at several museums in the USA and other countries. At the top of the village is the Art School of the Grue family, Liceo Artistico F.A. Grue, which has always been innovative, especially regarding the choice of colours and subjects. Tradition has remained important and respected, but the school has inspired a modern approach teaching contemporary art with relatively new disciplines, such as product design. So apart from valuable antiques and the reproduction of classic items, Castelli has become known for its contemporary ceramic art. Just take a tour of the ceramic art collection housed at the school or visit the Ceramics Museum in the centre of town.


As for the architectural heritage, our towns and villages have many impressive historical buildings decorated with the coats of arms of the noble families that controlled this area at different times. Exploring the narrow medieval streets, offering welcoming shade in the heat of the summer, you will find an interesting mix of humble, small and quaint houses, dating back to the Middle Ages. Sometimes they are propped up against the town walls, like in Isola del Gran Sasso with its truly picturesque “promenade”. Why not go for a walk around Isola? Perhaps you will even find a local at the bar to accompany you….


A 10- minute walk already offers fantastic views. If you are interested in landscape photographs and do not mind walking a little further, you can follow the signs for Pretara to arrive near the castle ruins of Pagliara. The castle used to belong to the Counts of Pagliara, the De Palla Aurea, ascendants and descendants of San Berardo (the patron saint of the city of Teramo) and Santa Colomba. The view of the mountains from here is simply breathtaking, and -with a little imagination- you may feel you have conquered a castle!


A trip to Azzinano, a village near Tossicia, to see the bright and playful murales is certainly worthwhile. In the summer, artists are invited to create three new murals every year, all in the Naif style and themed on children’s games of the past. They started in 2001, so you can imagine that a good part of the outside walls in the village are colourfully decorated with murals. The project is called “Walls with a story” and is dedicated to the local painter Annunziata Scipione, perhaps the most famous Italian Naif painter after Antonio Ligabue.


Walking around the village to admire the murals and listening to the tales of local elders takes you back to a world that no longer exists, with simple games, screaming kids, coins thrown against a sunny wall…. enjoy the bright colours, the nostalgia and the art!
And why not visit the Museum of Rural Traditions in Tossicia, which also has a permanent collection of Naif paintings by Scipione.

Another craft from days gone by in Tossicia is the art of working copper. Unfortunately there are no active coppersmiths left, but two interesting old workshops, now disused, can be visited. What a pity time has not been kinder to this art.

Visit Gran Sasso - Arte (1)
Visit Gran Sasso - Arte (2)
Visit Gran Sasso - Arte (3)